Category Archives: Monthly Roundups

Oops! All Isekai! January ’23 Roundup

Phew, okay, is that it? Was that January? Bye, I guess! It felt like you didn’t stick around for long!

2023 has hit the ground running. Here’s what I got up to this month:

On AniFem

It is once again premiere season! I took a lighter workload this time round, and just covered…

Campfire Cooking in Another World with My Absurd Skill – not necessarily much nutritional value, but a fun light snack.

Saving 80,000 Gold in Another World for My Retirement – tonally inconsistent to the point of being baffling rather than entertaining.

Sugar Apple Fairy Tale – to be fair, this one’s not an isekai in the portal fantasy sense. But it is a fantasy shoujo romance dealing in some power dynamics that are fraught to say the least.

Anime Feminist’s Recommendations of Fall 2022 – while we’re getting swept up in the new wave of content, let’s not forget to look back at the staff favourites from the previous season.

And don’t forget Patreon!

Everyone gets early access to my first blog post of the year, and from tier two upwards you get a short piece of fiction writing every month!

Content to Enjoy

Settle in for a journey through history… or, at least, the way various film and TV makers represented history in the media of 2022.

I always enjoy Mike’s “appropriately unhinged recap” videos, and I do love how they get more elaborate and less hinged each time. Tune in this month for a rundown of Gossip Girl seasons one and two, icons and time capsules of late ’00s teen drama.

This month I learned about “Scamilton”, an illegal performance of the hit musical Hamilton by a Texas Christian group who er… made some adaptational changes.

Your Body is a Haunted House: Hiron Ennes on the Discomfiting Tradition of Medical Horror – the first book I read in 2023 was Hiron Ennes’ Leech, a gothic sci-fi body horror extravaganza whose inspirations are so nicely explored in this article here. Doctors are scary, sure, but simply having a body is a terror of its own!

Orientalism and Occidentalism in Anime – stereotyped treatments of “the East” in the scholarship and pop culture of Europe are worth unpacking, but so too is the treatment of “the West” in Japanese media, all of which carries its own historical, social, and artistic baggage.

Book Releases: LGBT YA Books of January – June 2023 – I’m still doing my best to keep up with upcoming releases, and resources like this are always helpful! Give them a look.

#LoveOzYA Reads We Can’t Wait For in 2023 – and closer to home, here is a list of some of the Australian books in the pipeline this year! What’s that An Unexpected Party anthology they mention at the end, hmm? That sounds interesting…

For the song stuck in my head this month, I’m revisiting a classic.

February’s just around the corner, and 2023 is keeping on keeping on. I’ll see you over there!

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Twenty-Twenty-Through: December ’22 Roundup

Obligatory I can’t believe it’s the end of the year! end of year post! Once more, dear friends, it’s been a weird and wild ride. There has been plenty of lows in 2022, but there have also been plenty of highs:

Exciting Things I Achieved this year:

  • Handed in my PhD!! At time of writing this I’m still waiting on results, so examiner feedback will officially be a problem for 2023 Alex. But the biggest share of the work is done.
  • Got two short stories published (hilariously, within about a month of each other, even though that’s not the timeline on which they were written)! You can read ‘Legs’ and ‘Coast Roads’ for free online.
  • Ran an independent writing workshop! I put together eight sessions for a local queer organisation and introduced a small group of interested students to the ins and outs of different aspects of writing. Because we secured a grant, I got paid for my time and we were able to offer this workshop for free. All going to plan, a collection of the attendees’ short stories will be going to print next year!
  • Helped run a queer book club at my uni! I kicked things off with three months of fun, discussion-worthy novels and got everyone (well, the dedicated few who consistently turned up—you guys rock) to read Loveless, One Last Stop, and Cemetery Boys.

And hey, I’ve been writing:

All in all, I hope to say that things are looking up, and that there will be many exciting things to share here in the coming twelve months. I hope the same is true for all of you, and I hope that you all managed to get some sort of rest in that strange liminal space between Christmas and New Year.

On the blog

Queer YA Spotlight: Where You Left Us squeezing in one last spotlight post for the year, showcasing Rhiannon Wilde’s gothic-ish tale of two sisters figuring out a family mystery (and their own issues).

The Best Books I Read in 2022 – from fun rom-coms to funky sci-fi, check out my favourite novels from the past trip around the sun! These are always really fun posts to curate, so I hope you all enjoy them.

The Best Anime I Watched in 2022 – from hobby shows to fantasy adventures to… uh… very serious yakuza dramas… here are my favourite anime series from this year.

On AniFem

Girls Doing Stuff: Agency and Motivation in Girls’ Hobby Shows – chill hobby series make up some of my favourite anime, but was it about them that appeals to me so deeply? Read to find out!

Sex Ed 120% Part 1 and Part 2 – a podcast chat about an under-the-radar edutainment manga that aims to address the gaps in Japan’s sex ed curriculum with humour and surprising inclusivity.

And don’t forget Patreon!

For my Tricky Tricksters tier and up, I’m pushing past my nerves and posting excerpts of the new creative project I’m working on! This month, you get to meet Protagonist #3 of The Doorways Book, and finally get a first peek at one of these titular mysterious, magical doorways.

Things to Enjoy on the Internet

In superhero stories, “saving the world” often means making sure the world does not get changed. While this stems from the serialised format that kicked the genre off—resetting the story at the end of the episode/comic book so they can be enjoyed in any order—this has the knock-on effect of making modern superheroes into conservative figures who keep the status quo in place, while attempts at social change or questioning power structures are marked as villainous.

T’is the season to be horrified by the oppressive terrors of patriarchal systems and gendered violence! Here, Maggie compares the original Black Christmas against its 2019 remake/reboot and how the latter updates and plays on the core themes. Pairs nicely with This Ends at Prom‘s podcast episode on the same topic!

“If I Was Born as a Girl…” Transfeminine Desire in Stop!! Hibari-kun – a retrospective on a goofy 1980s rom-com that quite accidentally became a queer icon by virtue of treating its “boy dressed as a girl” heroine with compassion and respect.

Does Toradora! Hold Up Today? – short answer: yes! Long answer: this romcom gets much of its staying power from its strong characters and its focus on their growth.

Please Start Reading Books for What They Are – an evergreen post imploring reviewers—whether professional or personal—to take the genre and demographic context of a work into consideration and to meet the novel where it lives. i.e. maybe don’t complain that the plot of a children’s book feels uncomplicated or that a romance has a neat, happy ending.

Making Up and Making Waves: How Tropical-Rouge! PreCure Rewrote Narratives of Femininity and Fairy Tales – magical girls, cosmetics, and the fairy princess aesthetic have long gone hand in hand, but Ayumi Shinozaki argues here that 2021’s Pretty Cure instalment takes a refreshing approach to these topics.

Answerman: What Happened to Shoujo Anime? – shifting market niches and the notion that girls “grow out of” animation are among the reasons that we’re seeing fewer shoujo adaptations, even though this demographic retains a hungry audience.

Revisiting the Popularity and Cultural Context of Vampire Knight – take a blood-splattered, lace-clad walk down memory lane to the distant year of 2008, and see why this gothic shoujo melodrama serves as a perfect time capsule of the fantasies being sold to teen girls at the time.

I know I posted a Tom Cardy song a couple of months ago, and I really don’t like to double up, but the dreadful truth is I’ve had this one on loop in my brain since the start of December. Please enjoy a very silly and deeply compelling tale of the Old West.

And that’s all for now, and all for the year! I’ll see you all very soon for yet more adventures. Stay safe out there, one and all.

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National Novel Fighting Month: November ’22 Roundup

Bababooey

[EDIT a couple of hours after publication: I really did mean to put something more coherent there instead of that placeholder text. I really did. It’s been that kind of month in that kind of year!]

On the blog

A Pile of Australian Queer YA – what does the world of LGBTQIA+ teen fiction look like in Aussie publishing? Here are some recs and reviews from my recent investigation!

Young Adult, New Adult (???) and the Weird Business of Demographics – where lie the borders between genres and target audiences, and who draws them?

On AniFem

Fall 2022 Three-Episode Check-in – from princesses with books to maids with guns, let’s see how this season’s crop of new shows are coming along!

In The International Journal of Young Adult Literature

From Painters to Pirates: A Study of Non-binary Protagonists in Young Adult Fiction – a new scholarly paper, free to read! This scoops up and lays out a bunch of my thesis data, representing a lot of research work.

And don’t forget Patreon!

There are multiple exciting things happening over there! For all patrons, I’m writing up a series of PhDiaries: a retrospective on my experience completing an Arts doctorate, fashioned into a guide for those interested! For my Tricky Tricksters tier and up, I’m pushing past my nerves and posting excerpts of the new creative project I’m working on. This month, you get to meet Protagonist #2 of The Doorways Book. He’ll steal your stuff, but he’ll be so debonair about it.

Web reading

Liminality! We love it! Surreal, transitory spaces offer a deep uncanniness that many creatives love to play with, from net lore to horror films to House of Leaves. So what is “liminal horror” and why does it work?

Don’t Worry Darling is a movie with a lot of mess surrounding it, and a lot of mess in its plot and themes, too. Amanda looks at the changes made from the original script, the revised script, and the final version to see where things perhaps went wonky. Pairs nicely with her podcast co-host Friendly Space Ninja’s video on the same film.

While pretty common in anime and manga, the low-stakes cosy fantasy is relatively rare in English-language prose. Willow discusses the appeal of this twist on the genre and the fun new possibilities that pop up when epic conflicts aren’t the focus.

As the Buddha’s Temple Bells Toll: Looking Back to Kyoto Animation – Adam Wescott muses on The Heike Story and Looking Back, two very different artworks that both respond to the tragic arson attacks at KyoAni’s studio in 2019, and the way that storytellers might process grief or offer catharsis using very different genres.

Book Advances Are a Gamble, Not a Prize – author Anwen Crawford reflects on the current ways that authors get paid for their books, and how the industry norm is a risky, low-paying business for creatives.

Work Sucks, I Know: The Marxist Horror of Aggretsuko – would you believe I could never finish watching Aggretsuko because it was too stressful? Jeremy Tauber explores the ways this comedy depicts the inescapable terrors of capitalism, and the irony of it doing this so well whilst also being a Sanrio production trying to sell you mascot merch.

Is Bocchi the Rock! Mean to Bocchi? – when this show mines its protagonist’s anxiety for over-the-top comedy, is it asking us to laugh with her or at her? Your perspective may vary, but here is one from Bless.

On Developing a Non-combat Focused Magic System and Addressing Issues of Inequality Through Storytelling – I started reading the Book of Tea duology this month, and found this article by author Judy I. Lin super interesting.

Discussion: Goodreads Choice Awards 2022 & LGBT Books – stats on how many of the nominated books have queer characters, how those numbers compare to previous years, and which categories seem to consistently hold the most.

If I’m being honest, the song I have stuck in my head, whether I like it or not, is this. For a better option, though, try this:

See you all next time—for the final month of 2022!

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Getting Spooky with Tanuki: October ’22 Roundup

There’s always something exciting about premiere review season: the thrill of the chase! The search for a spark! Throwing myself into a world of stories and asking them to win my heart! It’s a tiring time, sure, but I genuinely find it so much fun. Back in the earlier days of AniFem, I would always look forward to these posts, and it’s very rewarding to think that now I get to be a part of that from the other side—helping inform people and maybe helping someone find a new favourite.

What are you folks watching this season? As you can see, it’s a pretty stacked one!

On AniFem

AniFem’s Recommendations of Summer 2022 – live, laugh, Love Live Superstar.

Bibliophile Princess – a shallow historical fantasy that wants you to believe its protagonist is so much smarter than other girls, than has her make extremely silly snap decisions.

BOCCHI the ROCK! – while your mileage may vary on whether you find the protag’s anxiety relatable or over-the-top cutesy, I personally really enjoyed this and wish her all the best in her musical dreams.

Do It Yourself!! – goofy girls, charming visuals, and power tools add up to make this a fun start to a hobby show.

I’ve Somehow Gotten Stronger When I Improved My Farm-Related Skills – bless their hearts, they tried to turn one of those “can you beat Skyrim with only a farming hoe?” gaming videos into a whole fantasy series. It was very boring.

Love Flops – if this had just been a bad, stupid comedy we might all have been able to move on with our lives. As well as being a bad, stupid comedy, however, it’s a bad, stupid comedy with a disgusting concept at the heart of its “humour”.

More Than a Married Couple, but Not Lovers – a rom-com that does not unpack the heteronormative ideas baked into its premise—and doesn’t even lean into the potential comedy in its absurd fake dating set-up.

Tekken: Bloodline – bit rough when your most interesting character is the mum who dies immediately for angst purposes, hey?

On the blog

Tanuki, Technology, and Tricksters in My Master Has No Tail – an ode to this intriguing and very meta series about trickster spirits trying to adapt to humanity’s troublesome advances. A blog post during premiere season?? Well, listen: I was really charmed by the first few episodes of this show, and I couldn’t stand the thought of Love Flops sitting at the front of the site for the whole rest of the month. Consider it a bonus!

And don’t forget Patreon!

There are multiple exciting things happening over there! For all patrons, I’m writing up a series of PhDiaries: a retrospective on my experience completing an Arts doctorate, fashioned into a guide for those interested! For my Tricky Tricksters tier and up, I’m pushing past my nerves and posting excerpts of the new creative project I’m working on. This month, you get to read (what is currently) the opening, and meet one of its protagonists!

Webbed sites

Arguably one of the first “aesthetics” (in an Internet sense, ya know), the Gibson Girl is a fictionalised, aspirational vision of femininity that dominates much of our current mental image of the early 20th century. She’s an interesting figure to discuss because she represents so many cultural ideas and issues, in conversation with many art, fashion, and political trends that have come since.

Demographics: they’re complicated! There’s industry-wide disagreement on what qualifies as a shoujo (“girls manga”) or a josei (“ladies’ manga”), so how do we tell the difference—especially when titles published as josei keep winning shoujo awards, and vice versa? Is it in the sexual content? The happy ending? The focus on “life before marriage” or “life after marriage”? Colleen is on the case!

The Problem with the Internet’s Obsession with Queerbaiting – queerbaiting, which was once a rallying cry for accountability for an exploitative creator-fan dynamic, has become an accusation that might ultimately harm, rather than help, LGBTQ+ people. A real human cannot “queerbait” you, gang!

How Healer Girl Calmly Created a New Way to be Magical – Ayumi examines this year’s Healer Girl in the context of the magical girl genre’s history.

The song stuck in my head this month is this piece of contemporary Australian Culture. We’ve all been there, haven’t we?

And that’s all for now—see you all again soon!

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BEES?! September ’22 Roundup

It’s been an exciting, tiring, weird month in the limbo land of having-submitted-and-waiting-for-results. There’s something funny I can say about how I’ve found myself in a liminal space after spending so much time writing about them, I’m sure, but mostly I’m just trying to enjoy the lull. Of course, other things have kept me busy, but I’m forcing myself to rest, write for fun, and just, like… lie down and do nothing, sometimes. It rules. Can highly recommend lying down.

In the meantime, though, I have more tangible, fictional things to recommend, such as…

On the blog

The Cosy Theology of Monk and Robot – Becky Chambers’ newest series is “comfy sci-fi” right down to the worldbuilding.

Queer YA Spotlight: The Honeys – Ryan La Sala’s third novel is an unhinged spectacular of social commentary, body horror, and bees, oh the beeeeeees

Short fiction

Coast Roads – you know those weirdly deep conversations and revelations you sometimes have on a long road trip? Here’s a little story about one of those.

On The Conversation

Teenage Misfits, Messy Emotions, and Joyous Discussions on Consent: Heartbreak High is a Bright New Piece of TV – Netflix and The Convo were kind enough to let me peek at the first three episodes of this new reboot of a classic Aussie drama—here are my thoughts!

Around the web

Have I mentioned I played probably thousands of hours of The Sims 2 when I was a teen? Here’s a trip down memory lane, exploring and celebrating the eerie and mysterious aspects woven through the game’s pre-built families and background lore—all working to built an effective atmosphere while still keeping the game officially out of the horror or mystery genre.

15 years (!!!) after the release of the Baccano! anime, it’s time for a retrospective on what exactly made the adaptation so special when it should have been an impossible task.

Many people multitask while playing games, but are games being designed to not hold our full attention so we can multitask? (As someone who finds multitasking pretty difficult, this was a genuinely fascinating insight!)

The Sandman: How the Representations of Dreams and Nightmares Have Changed Over Time – what do dreams mean? Where do they come from? The way we talk about our sleepytime adventures and the mythological figures associated with them have evolved with each era of storytelling and psychology.

Tamsyn Muir on Lyctorhood as Genderfuckery and Greasy Bible Study in Nona the Ninth – did I mention I love reading interviews with this author?

Why I Cancelled My Crunchyroll Membership – long-time anime journalist Lauren Orsini on the ethics of supporting an increasingly corporate Crunchyroll, as it continues to underpay its staff and shuffle off employees who seek to unionise.

Look who’s listening to podcasts again!

Per one of my patron’s recommendations (!) I’ve been listening to, and really enjoying, This Ends At Prom, a podcast about girl coming-of-age movies! This wife-and-wife team—one of which carries deep nostalgia for a lot of their topics, one of which had a teenage boyhood and is coming to them fresh in her adult life—cover a variety of films from Scream to The Mitchells vs The Machines to Phantom of the Opera (yes, the 2004 Gerard Butler venture, which they have The Correct Opinions about). Their insights are great, drawing on both life experience and their film industry know-how, and they often have lovely guests as well.

And the song on repeat this month is…

You gotta have the cowboy boots. You just do.

And that’s all for now! October is time for new anime (again!) so look forward to all the links to my reviews and first impressions. Take care of yourselves, and I’ll see you on the flipside.

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“We Do Bones”: August ’22 Roundup

GUESS WHO HANDED THEIR THESIS IN FOR EXAMINATION?

That’s right! It’s me!!

A couple of weeks later than the deadline I announced (that’ll teach me to announce such things publicly, ha) due to some factors outside of my control, but by golly, it’s polished, all its obvious technical and theoretical holes are patched, and its off on its way to my examination panel! 

As you can possibly imagine, things have been a little surreal since I sent my 105,000 word literary behemoth child out into the world to win some hearts and shape some minds. I’ve been trying to I adjust to not always having something to work on, something to research, something to refine, something to do. Now, my non-teaching time is, well, free time, where there isn’t a major project thrumming away in the background waiting for my attention. Yes, I have some other projects I would love to slot into that new empty space. But I’m also going to schedule in a hefty dose of lying down in the sun and doing absolutely nothing.

I’m still writing though, of course. Always always. Let’s look back at what I put out this month:

On the blog

The Queer Art of Not Staying Dead – we all know the Bury Your Gays trope, but here are some fantasy novels that are un-burying their queer protagonists in very satisfying ways.

Queer YA Spotlight: The Monster of Her Age – set in an alternate universe where Australia’s film industry is on par with Hollywood, this is a charming, moving story about grief and horror movies.

On AniFem

Summer 2022 Three-Episode Check-in – how are the new shows going in a season of ghouls and goofs?

Short fiction

Legs – the online literary zine EnbyLife was generous enough to publish a short story of mine! This one’s about the strange rituals associated with doing girlhood “properly”, and how something an annoying teenager says to you in passing can stick in your head forever.

Webbed sites

What does “historical accuracy” even mean, and can we apply these notions to fantasy? As Bernadette breaks down, often this is to do with creating a sense of logic, verisimilitude, and cohesion that makes your made-up world feel like a real place people might live day-to-day.

Listen, I maintain my argument that Rent-a-Girlfriend had potential… which makes it all the more painful that it divebombed into stupidity… which makes it all the more cathartic when other people tear its stagnant, sexist, downright silly narrative to shreds.

I’ve also been really enjoying diving into Mina Le’s backlog of well-researched and nicely-presented videos on various niches of fashion history. What does it mean to “dress rich” and where does that pop cultural image come from? What history and imagery is Lana del Rey drawing on for her carefully-constructed persona and why is it falling apart in the year of our lord 2022? She also has heaps on movie and TV costumes, but I’ve been having fun absorbing these glimpses into aesthetic worlds I wouldn’t normally chat about.

I’ve also been enjoying watching fashion historian Nicole Rudolph put together a… Muppets cosplay. No, really. It’s literally so good. The series starts here! You will learn so much!

“Differences Die at the Door”: A Postmortem of Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop – alright, so NetBop was canned, but getting to the heart of why involves a deeper dive than the memes. In this article, Madeline examines the creative influences behind the original versus the adaptation, revealing key differences that lead to the latter feeling “repugnant in a uniquely American way”.

All the Dangerous Things Ryan La Sala has Done in the Name of Research – author of Reverie, Be Dazzled, and the please-arrive-in-the-mail-soon new release The Honeys, La Sala has engaged with some chaos in the name of “method writing”—from infiltrating a cosplay contest, to urban exploration, to accidentally unveiling a beekeeper’s curse.

The song on repeat this month is a much more mellow vibe than July’s bop. It’s making me crave a visit to the ocean…

And that’s all folks! See you on the flipside.

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ALEX.exe has Stopped Running: July ’22 Roundup

Well, maybe that’s not quite accurate—at the very least, I’m running on dial-up speed. But I did a lot of writing this month, so let’s take a look back at that shall we?

On AniFem

Anime Feminist’s Recommendations of Spring 2022 – here’s a roundup of the team’s top picks from the past season!

Chatty AF #165: 2022 Spring Wrap-up – and here’s the podcast edition, wherein a tried/sick trio looks back on faves and disappointments.

Extreme Hearts – Episode 1 – a baffling hybrid of sci-fi, sports, and idols.

Parallel World Pharmacy – Episode 1 – an unexpectedly compelling spin on the overdone “zapped into a fantasy world with immense magic powers” trope… let’s hope it gives its female characters more to do in future episodes to really make it shine!

Luminous Witches – Episode 1 – war! What is it good for? Speculative fiction anime starring cool teen girls, that’s what.

Lycoris Recoil – Episode 1 – as we all know, the most effective assassins are sixteen-year-old girls. But will this show play that straight, or offer some social commentary on state violence?

My Isekai Life – Episode 1 – competent but ultimately deeply dull fantasy.

TEPPEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Laughing ’til You Cry – Episode 1 – as you might guess from the number of exclamation points in the title, this series has ENERGY!

When Will Ayumo Make His Move? – Episode 1 – if Kaguya-sama: Love is War is “teens play mindgames and refuse to be honest about their feelings (affectionate)” this is “teens play mindgames and refuse to be honest about their feelings (derogatory)”.

The World of Academia

Over the first weekend of July, I (virtually) attended a conference for the Australian Children’s Literature Association for Research. The vibe was great overall, and I got to sit in on some fascinating discussions about diversity in kidlit and YA from a range of research perspectives. And I presented some of my own! A transcript (and biblio) can be found here.

And don’t forget Patreon!

Yes, even though keep forgetting to link to it, don’t you forget that it’s there! For $2 a month you get early access to all my blog posts, and for $5 you get a little bit of short fiction in your inbox once a month!

Webbed sites

A common complaint lobbed at the shoujo demographic is that “it’s all the same”. Colleen unpacks that assumption here, pointing out that the variety within contemporary shoujo is genuinely impressive… but painfully inaccessible to English-language audiences.

It has become a fact universally acknowledged that Netflix’s new Persuasion adaptation is bad. But why, exactly? As Karolina breaks down here, a lot of it has to do with the treatment of the protagonist, who is denied the character growth that made her story so special by being written as a Modern Snarky Girlboss from minute one.

Willow reviews a manga I’ve been meaning to check out for a while—the delectable Delicious in Dungeon, which focuses on the nitty-gritty details of a fantasy world and all the tasty bits of lore and logistics that might usually get brushed over in favour of a more epic adventure.

Five Great LGBTQ+ Series with Disappointing Anime Adaptations – Vrai laments the various ways these queer stories were let down in the adaptation process, from seemingly random re-ordering of the narrative to production woes to excessive fanservice, and everything in between.

A Neurodiverse Reading of Eizouken‘s Asakusa Midori – Patricia highlights what resonates with her about Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken‘s lovable, atypical, creative main character.

The Forgotten Surprises of Anime VHS Commercials – Anthony takes us on a trip down memory lane into the weird, wild world of early anime advertising, which often took a somewhat shotgun approach.

The song stuck in my head this month is about mad, gay science.

And that’s all for now! Take care and I’ll see you again soon!

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A Cruel Angel’s Thesis Submission: June ’22 Roundup

It’s June, it’s Pride, it’s cold, and after what feels like forever of being “in the final months of” my thesis, I have an official submission date! The PhDeadline is the 29th of July, and I hope you’ll all join me in celebration when that day comes along. In the meantime, though, there’s still editing and paperwork to be done. So in the meantime, take a look at what I posted this month!

On the blog

Queer YA Spotlight: Ophelia After All – a sweet figuring-yourself-out story feat. one deliciously melodramatic teen love polygon.

Queer YA Spotlight: She Gets the Girl – a top-tier corny rom-com with emotional weight that carries the shenanigans.

Queer YA Spotlight: I Kissed Shara Wheeler – come for the mystery about a runaway prom queen’s mind games, stay for the heartfelt and bittersweet exploration of growing up queer in a conservative area.

Do you like how the covers are following the progression of the rainbow? It happened by accident at first, but once I noticed Ophelia was orange and Girl was yellow, I simply had to arrange them just so. Yes, the next book I spotlight will be blue. Keep an eye out…

On AniFem

Queer Resonance and Critiquing Heteronormativity in Spy x Family – me, using action-comedy anime to talk about queer literary theory? It’s more likely than you think!

And don’t forget Patreon!

Yes, even though I keep forgetting to link to it, don’t you forget that it’s there! For $2 a month you get early access to all my blog posts, and for $5 you get a little bit of short fiction in your inbox once a month!

Web enjoyment

Multi-millionaire James Patterson recently expressed his distress that it was difficult for white male authors to find work in publishing and Hollywood these days. Which… well, I’m sure you can see the holes in that statement already, but here’s Jesse unpacking it for us.

The tumultuous yet triumphant history of Fun Home, the musical based on Alison Bechdel’s memoir graphic novel and a (still) rare example of queer storytelling in the safe and commercial world of Broadway musicals. CW for discussion of historical homophobia, current homophobic violence, and suicide.

How do you keep making art in a world that’s falling apart, and in a body and brain that don’t work like they’re “supposed to”? Maggie has no definitive answers, but she does have a very poetic short film.

How DARLING in the FRANXX Inspired a New York Times Bestselling YA Novel – Kim Morrissey in conversation with Xiran Jay Zhao about the anime frustrations that, in part, led to the creation of Iron Widow—and what its success might herald for the future of anime-inspired English-language fiction.

The Legacy of Hoshizora Meteo – early ’00s visual novels are a niche of a niche, but fiction in this area has springboarded the careers of some now-iconic writers and franchises (including my simultaneous bestie and worstie Urobochi Gen). Despite his influence, however, one creator from this era has largely been lost to time and tide. Adam Westcott explores his strange and impactful body of work.

What Role Are You Playing? Communication, Queerness, and Neurodivergence in Yuri is my Job! – in a genre often fuelled by miscommunication, Yuri is my Job digs deep into the masks its characters wear and really breaks down what makes connection between them difficult.

Being Trans is the Dark Souls of Gender: An Exploration in Parallels – fighting for safety in a dangerous world, body horror, and the grim catharsis of triumph by playing your way: there are many aspects of the Souls games that compare to Flora Eloise’s experiences as a recently out trans woman, and it’s unlocked a new appreciation for the notoriously gnarly game.

Misato Katsuragi Lives an Existential Millennial Nightmare – let’s throwback to this 2020 piece now that I’ve watched Evangelion, and let’s celebrate Misato and the struggle against despair (both cosmic and ordinary) that she represents.

The song on repeat this month is this new, catchy, Big Mood from Florence + the Machine (I’m fine, I promise).

Bonus: thank you, Lofi Girl, for your curated concentration playlists. I’ve trained myself to get a lot of work done while this music is on! Just… don’t keep staying up so late, okay? Even girls animated on loop need sleep.

That’s all for now folks, but I’ll see you again very soon! Take care out there.

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“Heh”: May ’22 Roundup

Hee hee, hoo hoo.

On the blog

Our Flag Means Death and the Treasure Hunt for Queer Genre Fiction – as a historical romance and comedy, Flag is playing in a different set of tropes and expectations to a lot of contemporary, realistic queer media, providing new storytlines to explore and reassurance to viewers.

A Pile of YA Novels with Non-binary Protagonists (Part 1) – in celebration of my thesis being ALMOST, ACTUALLY, FOR REALSIES THIS TIME done, here is a post about some of the cool books I read for it! We’ve got fantasy, rom-coms, cabin-in-the-woods horror, and more, all with non-binary heroes leading the way!

On AniFem

Spring 2022 3(ish) Episode Check-in – my impressions of Heroines Run the Show, Recipe for Happiness, and The Executioner and Her Way of Life as they forge ahead and round up their first acts.

Chatty AF Episode 162: Spring 2022 Check-in – aaand my impressions, alongside co-hosts Peter and Caitlin, of this season as it continues to its halfway point!

You can also find me on this month’s Patreon bonus mini-podcast chatting about and reccomending anime-adjacent media! Feat. magical girl shows made outside of Japan, books about girls in mechs, and… wrestling?

Webbed sites

But how do you get that pirate aesthetic? Nicole Rudolph will show you how, walking us through the typical attire of a 1710s gentleman, and making and showing off her own version of Stede’s glorious, decadent robe. She also has a Part 2 where she covers the typical attire of pirates themselves, so be sure to watch both to get the full picture!

A deep dive into Heartstopper and what makes it refreshing, focusing on the fact that it’s a teen show clearly aimed at teens, how it blends realistic depictions with romanticised imagery, it’s quintessential Britishness in a media landscape overwhelmingly driven by Hollywood and its shiny clichés, and how its success perhaps represents a way forward and a new generation of queer media.

Canipa’s industry insights are always super interesting; this one gives us a peek into the unusual co-studio relationship behind Spy x Family and the tricks of the trade they’re embracing to make the series as energetic and emotive as possible!

Asexuality in Manga and More: 2022 Addendum – a roundup of contemporary manga series that include asexual (and/or aromantic) characters and how these stories depict and deal with asexual issues. Coherent Cats’ bibliography of ace manga sure is getting long, and it’s exciting!

The Unexamined Loneliness of Heartstopper‘s Characters of Colour – this uplifting show has a wonderfully diverse main cast, yet Jaime Woo feels the way that their race informs Tao, Elle, and Tara’s social experience isn’t touched on with satisfying depth, leaving a notable gap in the series’ otherwise thorough and empathetic exploration of the problems that marginalised teens can face.

Norman Spotlights: Tamsyn Muir – I just love reading interviews with this author. This one has some really interesting insights about the genre-blending creative process behind Gideon and Harrow the Ninth, the nature of tragedy, Muir’s past fandom shenanigans, and navigating the expectations of being a marginalised writer while not necessarily writing “marginalised books”.

Queer Media, Escapism, and Self-Discovery in Sasaki and Miyano – Anthony Gramuglia on how this romance series opens a very meta conversation about the effects LGBTQIA+ fiction can have on its teenaged readers.

Why ODDTAXI‘s Opening Theme is the Secret Sauce to its Success – Kerine Wint breaks down the symbolism, hidden (or, it turns out, not-so-hidden) foreshadowing, and multi-layered lyrical significance woven into ODDTAXI‘s banger of an OP.

Death Notes on Camp: Repurposing a Classic – Lucas DeRuyter explores the new layers of appreciation that emerge when ostensibly dark and serious detective thriller Death Note is instead viewed through the lens of camp (I am in part responsible for the pun in the title, and that is an editing achievement I’m very proud of).

I’ve been listening to the Heartstopper soundtrack a lot. There are some bops on there, including this one:

And that’s all folks! Take care and I’ll see ya soon.

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The Epic Highs and Lows of High School Golf: April ’22 Roundup

Here goes another month of exciting antics! See what I’ve been up to below…

On AniFem

First impressions season is here again, featuring…

Aharen-san wa Hakarenai – a rom-com that unfortunately doesn’t give me much to giggle about.

Birdie Wing: Golf Girls Story – the most intense golfing you’ll see on TV.

Don’t Hurt Me, My Healer! – a silly fantasy comedy where the best character is the bear.

Fanfare of Adolescence – horse boys? Horse boys.

Healer Girl – healing girls? Healing girls.

Thermae Romae Novae – bath time fun in Ancient Rome.

Trapped in a Dating Sim: The World of Otome Games is Tough for Mobs – a stuck-in-a-game isekai with nothing but contempt for the genre it’s apparently parodying.

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the team’s reviews, organised here for your convenience!

Anime Feminist Recommendations of Winter 2022 – and don’t forget to look back at the previous season and celebrate the best titles from that!

Around the web

The adaptation of Alice Oseman’s Heartstopper navigates the harsh realities faced by young queer people and comes out as a deeply wholesome and uplifting little love story—and, as James argues, it’s arrived in pop culture at just the right time in history.

Xiran’s take on Pixar’s latest and the conversations around it, ultimately celebrating the movie for its honest depiction of teenage girlhood and the aspects of that experience that end up “taboo” in most media.

Navigating Your Cultures: Himawari House – a heartfelt review of this graphic novel about three young women from different Asian backgrounds rooming together while they study in Tokyo, and what it gets right about cross-cultural communication, fitting-in-but-not-fitting-in, and figuring out where you sit in relation to your heritage and the world around you.

Silly Pirate Show Our Flag Means Death is a Shot Across the Bow of Queerbaiting – depending on where you are in the Internet, it may seem as if everyone was suddenly obsessed with pirates falling in love—and for good reason!

Killing Eve(n When You Should Know Better): The Persistence of the “Bury Your Gays” Trope – what the hell happened in the series finale to Killing Eve, why is everyone so upset about it, and what alternatives are out there for queer storytelling that is tragic while remaining satisfying?

Following the Song: Listening, Learning, and Knowing – Indigenous PhD student Lisa Fuller (remember that great horror novel Ghost Bird? That’s her) talks through the rigid expectations of academia, and how “decolonising the curriculum” is difficult when the whole system of knowledge is rooted in colonial thinking.

The song on repeat this month is this funky, hypnotic little gem:

Take care all—regularly scheduled posts are back in a few days!

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